Students from the Grade 5/6 class of teacher Brett Jones were recognized at the City of Saskatoon Living in Harmony awards for sharing their learning and commitment to the values of Truth and Reconciliation with their school and the wider community.
The annual awards, which recognize local organizations or individuals for their efforts in promoting anti-racist education and intercultural harmony, were presented during a ceremony held March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The class spent several months learning about Cree and British worldview, Treaties and the Indian Act. Arts education teacher, Jeanette Campbell, taught the students how to hoop dance, and educational assistants Rayleen Krysak and Shelley Froese ensured that all students were active participants.
"The students have been exposed to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts on the topic of residential schools and they have been involved in simulations to understand Treaties and the Indian Act that was imposed on First Nations people to colonize and assimilate them," Jones explained. "Students have viewed historically accurate videos that are stories representing the real-life experiences of many First Nations People in residential schools as well as interviews with survivors of residential schools."
Students were asked to reflect on their learning and based on their responses a script was created for a Truth and Reconciliation assembly performance where the class shared their learning with students, parents and guests with the goal of leading the school in their journey of reconciliation with their First Nations and Métis community. Every student in the class spoke about their significant learnings as they reflected on the topics of treaties, residential schools and racism. During a talking circle, students publicly shared their personal reconciliation.
As a symbol of their work, and to recognize the commitment to Truth and Reconciliation at our school, the class unveiled a Truth and Reconciliation display case located in the school's front entrance where all students and guests shared their personal commitment by writing a message of reconciliation on a stone that was placed beneath the glass. The display case was built by Lisa Ferguson, one of our school's parents.
Jones said the work done by all past Brownell teachers introducing students to the impact of residential schools and experiences of First Nations people provided students with a good base of knowledge that informed their learning and experience as part of the project.